Notes on the Race Day game
The Race Day game is the summative part of the website, where students directly apply the knowledge and understanding they have acquired and developed through the Training Zone. The simulation is split into two components: managing the racecourse and preparing a racehorse for a ‘big race’.
The two simulations run independently of each other and require the student to play two very different roles.
Each simulation is driven by the decisions that students take with some degree of randomisation i.e., students who make sensible and informed decisions and draw upon their prior learning from the Training Zone will tend to do better!
The Race Day game works through a number of sequential stages: students first make all the decisions concerned with being a racecourse manager, including elements such as the particular package of marketing and hospitality that they will offer to clients; then they become racehorse owners and decide which racehorse to purchase, which race to opt for and so on. It is quite possible for students to perform well in one of these sections and badly in the other, because the racecourse manager and racehorse owner simulations are modelled independently.
Lesson ideas, including differentiation
Step 1:building the racecourse
Students have a fixed budget, which is shown on the screen, and need to construct a sensible but interesting racecourse which will attract customers as well as encourage other uses of the racecourse e.g. hospitality and marketing for corporate events.
This area of the resource can be used to help deliver significant material relating to marketing and the ‘marketing mix’, and aspects of cost/benefit analysis and corporate responsibility. The scope to extend into PSHE areas such as stakeholders and community and ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ is also implicit.
In terms of construction, the default setting is for the track to offer flat racing only, but students can change this to flat and hurdle racing, flat and fence racing, or flat, hurdle and fence racing. The greater the variety of racing the greater the demand for admissions and viewing figures, but there is an additional cost consequence.
Students drag and drop sections of track to create their preferred course. The more ‘interesting’ the course the higher the likelihood of high(er) admissions and revenues. Students should try to include a mixture of straights and curves to achieve a course that is exciting and different. As with all business decisions, there is a cost implication and all of these are set within an overall budget constraint.
The main activity involves students creating their own racecourse using a combination of straights, gentle and tight curves and a finishing line. Students need to think carefully about how to design their course – given budgetary constraints and also the need to make the racing interesting and appealing to customers. All the information required to make good business decisions are contained in the resource, including the pros and cons of any given decision.
Students could be put into pairs or small teams to construct their course. Each team could be invited to assess the tracks created by other teams and to identify the advantages and drawbacks of each proposal. The scope for extended and independent learning through Assessment for Learning would be significant.
Step 2: Managing the Race Day game
Students next need to make decisions about marketing, hospitality and so on, where each decision has a cost and a benefit. Sometimes these benefits are not always certain and so students are required to make intelligent guesses on whether a particular pay-off will occur. Teachers could take students through pairs of decisions and ask them to anticipate what the different pros/cons might be. This would offer one way to further differentiate the resource through questioning. Higher ability students could be encouraged to predict what they might expect to be potential pay-offs and to identify the factors they would take into account before making a decision.
Students could keep a logbook to record the decisions they make at each stage and why they chose to make them. This could limit the possibility that students will make random decisions and could create an opportunity for them to review their decisions after they find out how successful they were as racecourse managers at the end of the section. They could consider ways in which they might wish to change subsequent business decisions should they have a chance to run the simulation again. This ‘what if’ analysis requires students to have a higher level skill and a capacity to look back critically at decisions and evaluate how they might secure a better payoff.
Step 1: Racehorse owner
Students need to look carefully through the given information to decide which racehorse to purchase and which jockeys and trainers to hire. They will need to notice that different racehorses and people possess varying characteristics and aptitudes.
The profiles are designed to offer some element of risk and students could discuss what level of risk they are prepared to take e.g. Jockey 5 looks to be competitive but has recently scored a 5th and 6th place. This could be interpreted as bad luck or perhaps it signifies something longer term. Teachers might want to widen the remit of this activity to explore issues surrounding business risk and the qualities and attributes of entrepreneurs as risk takers e.g. what is the difference between ‘risk’ and ‘gambling’?
Step 2: Prepare your racehorse
Students face several decisions relating to their racehorse’s health and happiness (HH&H). They make decisions – some of which have a financial consequence – which may or may not impact upon HH&H. The higher the HH&H the greater the chance of the racehorse winning the race, but again, there are no guarantees.
Students will need to be reminded that not all decisions of this nature can be solely driven by economics: issues to do with the racehorse’s well-being will of course be determined by the owner’s wish to look after the racehorse. Students can refer back to the material they learnt in the Training Zone to help inform their decisions.
Step 3: Prepare your racehorse
This section allows students to match their racehorse with the most appropriate race. Some students might simply opt to enter their racehorse into the race with the highest potential prize money while others might look more carefully to see which race bests suits their racehorse. Jockey and racehorse statistics can guide students’ decisions, and groups could be encouraged to justify their selection rather than simply pick any race.
Lower ability groups are likely to benefit from discussion at each step as students move through this area of the resource.
The race and the results
Students can run the simulations as many times as they wish. Keeping a record of key business decisions in a document or spreadsheet will allow students to see why a given set of conditions and decisions yielded a certain set of results. This could lead to an evaluation of their business decisions and an identification of what they would do differently next time; time permitting, they could work through the simulation again using this new information.
Students could be asked to judge the results of other groups and to advise on what they think the other group should do differently – drawing on the shared experience of using the website.